Monday, November 5, 2018

"Accidental Underwear Affront"

Exercising (virtually) every day and having nowhere to go I have to dress up for, my “Haberdashery of Choice” includes an extensive selection of colorful t-shirts.  (Although hardly “voluminous.”  We have a household instruction:  “Buy something new, add something old to the ‘Giveaway Pile.’”  Though, apparently, this rule is invalid for purses. Though – a repetitive third time – I am too gentlemanly to question the exception.)  

Sometimes, I ponder the issue of “age-appropriate attire”.  How old is actually “too old” to dress like I am leaving imminently for camp?  At what point am I required to reasonably “Dress your age”?  Not in response to “Conventional Etiquette” but because I am beginning to look ridiculous?  (Or is it that breach of “Conventional Etiquette” that, in fact, makes me look ridiculous?  I shall dive into that issue as soon as I solve the mystery of why decent Americans voted for Trump.)  (Because he is not one.)

The matter truly perplexes me.  When I am 80, can I still dress like a Fifth Grader in springtime?  

Turning 90, can it still be, “Shorts and a t-shirt?”

How about a hundred?  

“Buried with no socks”?

Would that be okay?

Right now – if we were “Face-Timing” you could see me – I am standing at the computer, dressed like I am awaiting the doorbell to ring, hearing the following, “Can Earl-o come out to play?”  I am 73, for heavens sakes!  And yet I’m an example of “A-dress-ted Development.” 

Beyond their utility as covering clothing, my t-shirts – specifically, their silk-screened embellishments – conjure up wonderful places I have previously gone to.  Or, to a lesser extent, wonderful places my “nearest and dearest” have previously gone to, and they brought me back t-shirts as a gift.  

Though I am appreciative of the latter, I have a deep bonding attachment to the former.  The self-bought t-shirts smell like me, there.  The gratefully received gift t-shirts smell like them there, which, from a reminding “Sense Memory” standpoint, is not nearly the same.  

All of this, of course, would be totally moot, save for a discovered “game-changing” invention:

T-shirts with stuff written on them.

Which, my children, was not always the case.  Let us take a brief moment to recall the genius “Unknown Innovator” who saw commercial advertising on billboards and thought, “Why not ‘commercial advertising on t-shirts’?”  (Both of them, otherwise, white and empty.)

That revolutionary insight altered the world.

“And the Nobel Prize for ‘Innovation in Underwear’…”

That’s what I’d do.

But nobody asked me.

My first experience with “t-shirts as marketing devices” was the aforementioned summer camp.  Newly minted Camp Ogama t-shirts (scrupulously debited in “Tuck”), donned most ubiquitously on Visitors’ Day, reminded parents exactly where they had shipped off their children that summer, and where they should send them again next year.  Worn in the “city”, they served as free advertising for the owners.  As, of course, are all “decorative” t-shirts. Which, as with rented billboards, they should actually pay us for wearing them.

That is not going to happen. (Though there was no “Hopalong Cassidy” on The Westerns Channel, and after my written suggestion… “Here he comes, here he comes, blare the trumpets, bang the drums, here he comes…” So we can never know for sure.)

Okay.  So here we go. (Prepare for a non-funny narrative “turn.”)

I wear t-shirts while exercising, while loitering around the house – which I like to call “working” – and sometimes, because I make no distinction and because it’s Los Angeles so neither does anyone else, beyond the boundaries of my domicile.  I mean, it’s not “Wearing pajamas in the street.” There is a “line.”  Although the L.A. one allows “drawstrings” at funerals.

So I am heading for a doctor’s appointment, contacting Lyft to transport me.  Not because the appointment is far, but because the Lyft charges – round trip – barely exceed to price of the parking. And I don’t have to search for my car after I’m finished. 

I am wearing, what they call “house pants” – which are basically exercise pants without the sweating – and a t-shirt, a trendy “Military Green”, stitched in front with the single Cyrillically-rendered word – Turkiye– souvenir of one of the greatest adventures of my life, a two-week vacation to Turkey.

The trip-purchased t-shirt reminds me, among other remembered delights, of sailing the Aegean in a two-masted “gullet” (which I was permitted to steer), sumptuous local cuisine, the geological wonder of Ephesus, and watching ships of the world, traversing the Bosporus.  Oh, and bargaining the surprised t-shirt vendor “up” in Istanbul’s bustling “Grand Bazaar.”  (“How much for this t-shirt?”  “Twenty lira.”  “Twenty-two. And that’s as far as I go.” Though I eventually “bid up” to twenty-six and he laughingly sold it for eighteen.)

A magnificent adventure, symbolized by that t-shirt.

Which, after five years “in regular rotation”, I have forgotten I am wearing.

In the course of our congenial chit-chat, I ask my Lyftdriver, of non-American extraction, where he originally hails from, preparing to “connect” with him by revealing that I too am from elsewhere.

“I was born in Armenia”, he readily replies.

I respond with an interested “Huh.”  And then remember the t-shirt.

See: “Turkish-Armenian History.”  


To the driver, I am wearing a customized swastika.  

And there is no way of ameliorating this affront, short of tearing the t-shirt off of my body and flinging it angrily out of the window.

Beyond my reddening embarrassment, my dilemma triggers a consequent conundrum.  

I have four souvenir t-shirts from Turkey. 

Do I continue to wear them?

Or do I consign all of them to the “Giveaway Pile”?

The old t-shirts were boring.

But there we no guilt-driven “ride shares.”


Pidge said...

Look up Armenian Genocide. It was a WW1 rehearsal for the Holocaust. You’d think it would be mentioned in history books from our era...but no. I’d never heard of it either, although I was immersed in Holocaust education for years, until an Armenian student of mine did a presentation to the class and we were all horrified.

JED said...

Dressing your age is a strange idea to me. I always felt that the way "they" think you should dress is the way some older generation dressed when they were your age. But I'm betting that the way the older generation dressed at this age is just the way they dressed when they were younger.

When we were about to start high school, my best friend informed me that we'd no longer be able to go to school in blue jeans. So, I got all new clothes and suffered. Then I got to college (late 60s, early 70s) and found it was OK again. I've never given it up. I am dressing my age.

Did your driver say anything after seeing your shirt? My guess is that he would rather you continue to wear the shirt at least until you left his car.